Avert your eyes

I continue to be a giant barrel of fun wrapped up in a drooling, spontaneous nap. Perhaps I should try to enter a new line of work, such as mattress tester. (Not that I’d be all that good at it; turns out I can sleep just about anywhere.)

Now I have a new thing to keep me awake, though! Woooooo! Lucky me.

Have I ever mentioned (once or a hundred times) that I have terrible skin? More specifically, I have finicky, easily insulted skin, as befits a delicate flower such as myself. As a teenager I had the occasional pimple, no big deal, but my acne has continued to worsen in adulthood until it was joined by rosacea and wrinkles, and it’s a veritable PARTY OF HORRORS on my face these days. I’m used to it, and for the most part I’m able to keep things under control.

It’s all part of the joy of being a woman, right? I use the special face wash with the fancy facial scrubbing sonic brush doohickey, then I coat my face in special serum made from the tears of unicorns, then I apply a moisturizer that both hydrates AND controls oil (magic!), and finally I apply spot treatment to any active zits and Holy Hell You Look Tired And Old undereye-de-bagging cream to the circles under my eyes. As one does. And then if I’m feeling really fancy (and haven’t fallen asleep yet…), I put on makeup.

This routine isn’t foolproof—for example, I am fooling no one about the bags under my eyes, and yes, I still have pimples—but it’s workable. I’m able to get through life this way without feeling like a hideous monster. Every now and then things get worse for some reason (say, I eat wheat and have an eczema outbreak, or I decide that it’s perfectly fine to eat a whole lot of sugar), but for the most part, it’s good. And when something goes wrong, usually I can trace the cause to something I ate or a new product or whatever.

Well. EVERY NOW AND THEN, just for funsies, something awful happens for no reason whatsoever. Like, say, I’m sitting at home on a Saturday, watching television because my whole family is off in various other locations, and I take a break from my very busy schedule to go pee, and I look in the mirror and realize that my chin is twice its normal size.

This is not a zit. I mean, technically I suppose it is. At least, it’s something zit-like, taking over the left half of my chin. But I’m talking about a GROWTH. I’m talking about something so large that I now appear to have a dimple in my chin (I do not have a chin dimple) where the edge of this monstrosity slopes down to the normal half of my face. Half a golf ball sprouted there, out of nowhere. And once I realized it was there I also realized that it HURT.

I commenced slathering the growth with zit cream and antibiotic ointment fifty-seven times a day. Still, it continued to grow throughout the weekend—by Sunday morning my neck hurt because this business on my chin actually required new sleeping positions!—and by yesterday afternoon I faced the dilemma of “go out for groceries and risk scaring small children” vs. “stay home and hideous but hungry.” Yea, verily, because I am brave (and also because we were out of milk), I eventually used half a tube of concealer and headed out to shop as quickly as possible.

I am forty-freaking-two-years-old. Cystic acne, at my age? REALLY?

It’s amazing how a single skin event can turn me right back into an awkward teenager, too. I can’t stop touching my face, even though I know that touching my face is likely making it worse. I have an official sort of meeting at school tomorrow and all I can think is WHAT IF I STILL HAVE THIS GIANT THING ON MY FACE OH MY GOD! How can I expect people to take me seriously when Rudolph’s famed red nose has somehow sprouted out of my chin? How will anyone believe I’m capable of knowing what’s best for my child when I appear incapable of cleansing my own face??

Maybe I can just wear a turtleneck and do a Mort-from-Bazooka-Joe move. (If you don’t know what that is, get off my lawn.) I’m sure that wouldn’t be weird at all.


  1. Korinthia Klein

    Ugh, I hate all that. I got it in my head a long time ago that acne was just for teenagers and I was looking forward to that being done. But now there are pimples AND wrinkles and that just seems unfair! There should have been at least a few days of transition with nothing. If life were fair. But it’s not. So sorry about your chin.

  2. diane

    As far as the meeting goes, a giant thing on your face that you can (mostly) cover with concealer is preferable to a gaping, oozing hole, if you know what I mean.

    Once my (mild) teenage acne cleared up, I had perfect skin. At least until I turned fifty. I don’t really long for my youth, but apparently my skin decides to take a nostalgic trip down acne lane.

    It really is the ultimate indignity.

  3. TC

    Pshaw. I’m just a couple of months from *50* and I have regular cystic acne. Sometimes pushing my age spots to the side. Sometimes hiding in my wrinkles. It is ridiculous. That’s all I can say about it. Ridiculous.

    (Mine, I figure, is some kind of karmic payback for having not had any real acne as a teenager. I can only assume that I gloated one time about my relatively spot-free skin, and earned myself this…disfigurement. I need to believe that, because if this isn’t punishment, it’s a sign that there is no God. ;-))

  4. Anne

    Just get a sterile individually wrapped small lancet (it is used by dermatologists all the time, and after you take a shower, put some rubbing alcohol on your chin and use the lancet to pop the thing.
    Squeeze all the pus out, let in drain, squeeze again five minutes later to make sure it is all out because sometimes stuff rises from deep in the infected pore, put some hydrogen peroxide on the spot to get rid of the germs, and you should be fine.

    • Brigid

      This totally sounds like a home-procedure I would try myself…

  5. Anne

    p.s. you can get the lancets at any drugstore.

    • Elizabeth

      If you choose to do this like the dermatologist does, please wear gloves like the dermatologist does. Disposable gloves… and then dispose of them.

  6. Sarah B.

    Ohhh I know the type you mean. I’m at the wrinkles-and-acne age, too, only I had HORRID acne as a teen and even though it’s ‘better’ now, it’s still worse than I would have expected it to be by my age. And if it’s the type I get, then poking it with a lancet will simply mean it’ll sputter and ooze for the next 12 hours like a slow leak from a balloon. Hate the things. :(

  7. jodifur
  8. Heidi

    I commiserate with you. After having relatively good skin all my life, my forties socked me with the same trifecta you mentioned: acne, rosacea, and the occasional cystic chin thingy (always the chin!). I was off and on some kind of retinol cream throughout that decade–which helped to clear up the skin somewhat, but made my skin dry, sensitive, and unnaturally pink. My dermatologist suggested birth control pills, which wasn’t possible, as throughout that period I was either trying to get pregnant, or gestating and nursing. The only thing that’s helped to my satisfaction is … menopause (at 50).

  9. Katherine

    At this point I’m reduced to hoping that menopause will clear up my skin. I have had acne relatively constantly since my early teens. Except while pregnant and nursing – then my skin was beautifully clear. It seemed a bit much to keep having kids to clear up my skin, but that’s not to say I didn’t consider it… Birth control pills did nothing for my acne. And at some point I developed rosacea too. My son and I get to have dual visits to the dermatologist.

  10. Therese

    Ewwww..right there with you on this. It seems like I am cursed with one very large and pus-filled zit right in the middle of my chin each month. I actually went to the primary physician’s PA to see what the hell this thing was. He looked at me and said, “That’s nasty, what is that?” Umm, I was hoping you could tell me. And the dermatologist was no help either. Anyhoo, I have learned to live with it. When it gets to its grossest point, I pop it and them have the large, leaking wound for a couple of days. I have actually worn a small round bandaid on it at times and tell people I’ve had something removed.

  11. Pip

    At the moment I am super stressed because I am in the middle of moving house, just completed a course towards my degree last week, and three days ago I found out I’m losing my job. Naturally, my face thinks that THE BEST thing it can do to make my life easier is break out in spots.

    It’s like when you’re really really stressed and your periods stop (happened to me all the time as an undiagnosed anxiety sufferer in my late teens, early 20s) and then you’re like ‘OMG AM I PREGNANT TOO????’. The body is all ‘Oh, you’re stressed? Here’s something else to stress about. Bazinga!’

  12. CIndy

    Wow, I guess I am totally out of the loop because I think I have cystic acne breakouts and didn’t know it until I read this.

    Aannnd it looks like mine are hormonal related. I have discovered (even in my blissful ignorance with all things skin related) that if I use a product with benzole perioxide in the week or so leading up to my period, things are better. I can’t use it more than once a day or my skin starts coming off in sheets. But I can use witch hazel as frequent as I want. It’s good for calming a breakout in mid-swell as well as preventing them if I am vigilant with it while my face is producing oil. And it does produce oil, to the extent where I’m wondering if I can market this stuff? Surely we can come up with a car that runs off whatever kind of oil comes out of human pores. Between me and my boys, I could cut my gas bill down to pennies.

  13. Brigitte

    Is it named Doug (a la Family Guy)?

    At least mine show up in hidden spots, like my belly, but they SCAR. I wasn’t about to hop into a bikini, but still.

  14. Michele

    One word: Burqa. They won’t notice the bags under your eyes, either, AND if you do happen to doze off mid-meeting, it too will go unnoticed.

  15. Jan in Norman OK

    My sister used to get those. She called them “Kirk Douglases.” As I recall, she used to get a cortisone shot directly into it.

  16. Kris

    Cortisone injection from the dermatologist. Works with 24 hours generally. Only thing that saves me.

  17. Karen in Michigan

    So, yeah. Last visit to the dermatologist to remove an inflamed hemangioma (I love that phrase–inflamed hemangioma) he did the usual full-body inspection because I also have had a number of atypical things removed. Anyway, I have developed a large, ugly, colorless MOLE on my cheek. I can only wish it were a pimple. But he also pointed out the acne, the cystic acne, the plugged oil ducts, and a number of other things that didn’t go away when I hit 50. And I’m not officially menopausal yet (hasn’t been a year) so I don’t even have that going for me. I think what we’re all trying to say is that you aren’t the only one and we all sympathize. And also tea tree oil soap.

  18. Jeanie

    I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse, but I’m 69 years old and STILL get zits. In fact I’m just getting over one right in the middle of my forehead. You know, like the little girl who had a little curl?

  19. Brigid

    I only share this with you because I’m a sharer… but I am currently sporting a cyst-like marble on my eyelid. Thought it was a stye at first, but as time has passed it’s clearly in the middle of my eye lid sitting there all marble-like. I guess I’ll be the jerk wearing sunglasses inside…

    • Carrie

      That is probably a chalazion. My husband had to get one removed earlier this year. It can actually affect your vision because of the pressure on your cornea, so you might want to visit your opthamalogist…

  20. suburbancorrespondent

    Are you sure it is cystic acne and not cellulitis? Because if it is the latter, you really need some antibiotics! If you start feeling flu-y, get thee to a doctor.

  21. The Other Leanne

    Thank you, one and all. I thought I was the only one.

  22. Allison

    I too have these problems. It is annoying! One thing that does work on my delicate flower skin is salt water on a cotton ball. Just soak a cotton ball and hold it over the sucker a few times a day. It doesn’t make it go away but it brings everything to the surface faster and I feel like it heals quicker . Also aquaphor at night after it pops

  23. Jessica (the celt)

    I’ve never had good skin, unfortunately, and I have a medical condition that probably means I never will. *sigh*

    Anyway, what is this hydrating, but oil controlling moisturizer that you use (if you’re willing to share)? I’ve tried a ton, but some dry my face out even MORE and others aren’t really oil controlling (lying liars from liartown). I’d love to find something that actually freaking works!

  24. Chuck

    I think I got one of those when I was about 19 or so. I did go to the dermatologist and he did something that helped but was painful. Anyhow, I do advise checking with a dermatologist, he might be able to make it go away faster than you think (injecting with antibiotics or something.)

  25. Peggy Fry

    I get those (and I’m in my middle 50’s.. oh Joy!!) and I have to have special ointment from the dermatologist to cool it down and a shot in it if it is huge and nasty and on a weekday…..Bandaids work well. It’s the point I am afraid to moisturize because it will kick off a round of it.. Oral anti-biotics, special ointment to put on the yucky things, then another special cream to head off the sheets of skin that come off after it heals… Ah, adulthood.


  26. 12tequilas

    Something that large and hurty earns you a trip to a dermatologist. He or she will know what to do!

  27. nicole

    i love it when I have a cyctic acne outbreak on my chin and back and I can wrap up my acne skin regimen with plucking grey hairs out of my head. makes me want to curse mother nature.

  28. Sassy Apple

    Yep. We should form a support group.

    I’m now going to get all ‘hippy dippy new agey,’ which is NOT my usual path. I started using coconut oil to cook with about a year ago. Then I read about what a good moisturizer it is, so I started using it on my feet. Then one late night, I used it to remove my make up because I was too lazy to get up. This became a habit, and now it’s the only thing I use on my skin. I take my make-up off with coconut oil and kleenex and go to bed. No soaps, scrubs, toners, serums,masques, creams or moisturizers. I’ve never had a better complexion or spent less money on it. Weird, huh?

  29. L

    Cortisone shot is the only cure, but I know you are like me and actually calling the doctor to make the appointment for giant on your face and then actually going there are just about as bad as the actual giant!

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